St Mary MacKillop
Early Learning Centres

History

Our Centres have been named after St Mary of the Cross MacKillop (1842-1909), who was canonised in October 2010 as Australia's first Catholic Saint.

 Mother Mary’s work began in South Australia in the 1860s and soon spread across the country. Mother Mary and her Sisters looked after people, especially the poor – physically, spiritually and educationally.

 Mother Mary and her Sisters opened many schools in rural and remote areas of Australia (such as the Townsville Diocese) and in the larger cities. Mary MacKillop had a great devotion to St Joseph, referring to the Saint as Jesus’ own dear foster-father.

 Mother Mary saw in St Joseph’s protection and faithfulness to Jesus and his mother Mary, the example and guidance needed to help her Sisters and their mission to prosper.

“St Joseph, pray for us”, was her prayer.

 “Do all in your power to promote God’s glory”

 Blessed Mary MacKillop, 1906

 Our Centres have been named after St Mary of the Cross MacKillop (1842-1909), who was canonised in October 2010 as Australia's first Catholic Saint.

Mother Mary’s work began in South Australia in the 1860s and soon spread across the country. Mother Mary and her Sisters looked after people, especially the poor – physically, spiritually and educationally.

Mother Mary and her Sisters opened many schools in rural and remote areas of Australia (such as the Townsville Diocese) and in the larger cities. Mary MacKillop had a great devotion to St Joseph, referring to the Saint as Jesus’ own dear foster-father.

Mother Mary saw in St Joseph’s protection and faithfulness to Jesus and his mother Mary, the example and guidance needed to help her Sisters and their mission to prosper.

“St Joseph, pray for us”, was her prayer.

“Do all in your power to promote God’s glory”

Blessed Mary MacKillop, 1906

In 2003 the Diocese of Townsville began discussing ways to support not just our own Catholic families, but family life in general. The Diocese felt it must respond to the changing needs of people in contemporary society in new ways, but always with the conviction that family life has a central place in the Church and in society.

As part of the Church commitment to family life it was decided to establish Catholic Childcare Centres in the Diocese of Townsville under the patronage of Blessed Mary MacKillop, renowned for her care of families and children.

The centres would aim to provide:

  • Professional childcare with a Catholic approach
  • A service which values the spirituality of children
  • A partnership with parents
  • Ways to access government and other family support agencies.

In February 2003, Bishop Michael Putney approved an initiative to build childcare centres located with or close to primary schools.

On the 2 August 2004 Mary MacKillop Childcare - Mundingburra opened its doors for the first time. The centre, located on Ross River Road adjacent to St Joseph's School and the Blessed Mary MacKillop Parish, incorporated the building known to many Townsville residents as "The Shack". The building was refurbished and extensions added, with many of the original features of "The Shack" preserved, especially its beautiful wooden floor.

The opening of Mary MacKillop Childcare - Kirwan occurred on 5 November 2004. The Kirwan site, purchased by the Diocese in July 2003, was formerly owned by the Christian Outreach Centre. The Kirwan development also involved the construction of the performing arts centre for Ryan Catholic College.

This was followed by the opening of a centre in Ingham in 2009, across from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School. In 2011, the Goodoo Childcare Centre on Palm Island was taken over, becoming a Mary MacKillop Goodoo Childcare Centre.

Renaming of the Centres

Following the canonisation of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop in October 2010, it was decided to rename and re-brand the Mary MacKillop Childcare Centres.

In 2011, the centres were formally renamed to St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centres, a name that better reflects the quality care and early learning programs available.

In September 2011, the first St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centre opened in Rasmussen, adjacent to Good Shepherd Catholic Community School and the Good Shepherd Parish.

We now have six centres:

  • St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centre, Mundingburra
  • St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centre, Kirwan
  • St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centre, Ingham
  • St Mary MacKillop Goodoo Early Learning Centre, Palm Island
  • St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centre, Rasmussen
  • St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centre, Mount Isa